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Con Air: Unrated Extended Edition

List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted May 12, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Session

Sally: "Hello everyone, and welcome to another meeting of Cinema Trash-Lover Anonymous. It seems we have a new participant this evening, so let's all welcome him."

Scott: "Hi, everybody. My name's Scott Weinberg and ... I love Con Air. I've tried everything, honestly. Self-medication, hypnosis, Scorsese marathons... Nothing works. Every time I see more than 11 seconds of Con Air, I just have to sit down and watch the whole loud, stupid, ridiculous thing. So I thought group therapy might help..."

(Stunned silence)

Sally: "Now now, let's be supportive here. Glen, for example, really loves... What was it, Glen?"

Glen: "Krull. So what? Peter Yates is underrated. Liam Neeson's in it. You wanna make something of it?"

Sally: "No, no, Krull's fine, Glen. Love that Glaive. And what about you, Dawn. Would you care to introduce yourself?"

Dawn: "I swear I'm never leaving the house again."

Scott: "What?"

Dawn: "Who's ready to party on the big boat besides me?"

Sally: "Oh, yes. Dawn speaks only through the dialogue of Speed 2. She's made remarkable progress."

Scott: "Good to meet everyone, but I think I might need a level 9 intervention here. I mean ... Con Air."

Sally: "Scott, knowing you have a problem is half the battle. Why not explain where you think this affliction comes from."

Scott: "It was supposed to be just another action movie. Nicolas Cage is a super-macho army-dude who gets thrown into prison after killing this asshole in self-defense. I just couldn't believe it..."

Sally: "Well, you know it's just a movie..."

Scott: "Yeah, but it was so unfair. And his wife was so hot."

Sally: "So he's sent to prison."

Scott: (openly weeping) "Yeah. And while he's in prison his really smokin' hot wife has their baby, and get this: on the day he's supposed to be released, he ends up on a hijacked plane full of, like, 10 really colorfully disgusting bad guys. I mean they're rapists and lunatics and..."

Sally: "And Nicolas Cage has to find a way to survive."

Scott: "Oh, if only! He also has a best friend dying of insulin shock, a lady guard threatened with rape every 19 minutes, and a Colombian drug cartel to quash! Seriously, there's enough stuff in here for 11 Simon West movies."

Sally: "So why is it that you find yourself drawn to this particular film?"

Scott: "It's just awesome. Con Air is pretty grim and violent, but it has a really twangy comic-book sensibility, too, as if the filmmakers realized 'Hey, if we're going to make an outlandish action flick, let's make it rrrreally outlandish.' Plus, and I know you're gonna think I'm insane, but..."

Sally: "Go on. It's OK."

Scott: "I think it's actually pretty ... clever, too."

(Muffled chuckles fill the room.)

Scott: "I know, I know. It's shameful. But the screenplay, which I hear was cobbled together by about seven screenwriters, actually has quite a lot of zing and wit."

Sally: "It's the Cusack factor, isn't it?"

Scott: "It's gotta be. I mean, it's fun to see Cage in a mullet and emoting like a Louisiana inbred, but there's something so enjoyably bizarre about seeing John Cusack glib his way through a mega-wacky Jerry Bruckheimer action flick. And the guy has some fun with it, too, like he knows he's way out of his element."

Sally: "Your chart says you have an extreme weakness for big ensembles and grizzled character actors. This might help to explain why..."

Scott: "Oh don't even get me started. Malkovich, as head scumbag Cyrus Grissom, is the most hilariously evil villain this side of Clarence Boddicker. The guy gets four consecutive death scenes, so you just know he's evil. And he's got henchmen galore! A devious master racist (Ving Rhames), an oily slasher (Steve Buscemi), a hillbilly pilot (M.C. Gainey), a vile rapist (Danny Trejo), a nasty thug (Nick Chinlund), a tiny cross-dresser (Renoly Santiago), a two-bit crackhead (Dave Chappelle)...

Sally: "That's a lot of villains, to be sure, but..."

Scott: "I know, right? And it's all up to mulleted Nic Cage and snarky office-guy Cusack to save the day. Plus there's Star Trek guy (Colm Meaney) as a pompous ass and a really hot co-worker (Angela Featherstone) who serves no real purpose in the movie at all...

Sally: "OK, so you like the admittedly silly concept, and you're a big fan of the ensemble casting. There's nothing too crazy about..."

Scott: "Sally. Have you actually seen Con Air?"

Sally: "No. I don't much care for R-rated movies."

Scott: "OK, well, this is easily one of the silliest action flicks ever made. I swear: the flick plays like it was originally intended to be done as a cartoon. Everything is beefed-up, broad, and ... almost satirical in delivery. It's not exactly a spoof of action flicks, but everyone involved clearly has tongue wedged firmly within cheek."

Sally: "So you think..."

Scott: "Oh, and the score. Love the Con Air music. Honest."

Sally: "OK, that's fine, but..."

Scott: "Don't judge me."

Sally: "We're not..."

Scott: "Yes! Yes, I know I have a problem! I fully acknowledge that Con Air is to cinema what Garfield's Coloring Book Volume 4 is to literature! I'm sick, help me!"

Sally: "Look, Scott, you obviously have some real problems. Your file indicates that you also enjoy watching Resident Evil, Deep Rising, Charlie's Ang...

Scott: "Someone unlock these handcuffs. I know my rights."

Sally: "Scott, we have a standard test regarding people afflicted with Con Air Syndrome, and here it is: The song that plays just as the end credits roll, I believe it goes "How Do I Live Withouuuutt Youuuuu?" -- what do you think of this song?"

Scott: "I don't have to answer these questions. I'm from Philadelphia, you know. Birthplace of..."

Sally: "Answer the question."

Scott: "Look, I'll be OK. Someone go get my Amadeus DVD. Pizza's on me."

Sally: "Scott, the Live Without You song? Please?"

Scott: "OK OK, I like that awful freakin' song, too! It's like the perfect cornball icing on the ultimate cheeseball cake! I'm sorry! Look, forget Con Air! Let's talk about Schindler's List! That's a good movie! I can have good taste sometimes!"


Video: The anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer is a marked improvement over the previous "bare-bones" release ... but we'll further define the term "bare-bones" in just a few seconds.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, which I like to play extra-loud when nobody's home. Optional English subtitles are available if you blow your eardrums out while watching Con Air.

Extras: OK, so get this: The previous release of Con Air came with a theatrical teaser and a trailer. Fans of the flick would surely rejoice given such riches. Naturally, we expect a new "unrated extended edition" to come packing a few extra goodies. Nope.

Not even the two trailers from the previous release have been included here! All we get are some Disney previews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Grey's Anatomy S1, Glory Road, Annapolis, Crimson Tide: Extended Edition, and Enemy of the State: Special Edition -- and I bet you good money that those last two have a Con Air trailer on 'em!! Grrrr.

Oh, and as far as the "new stuff" that's always wedged back into a movie when a studio wants to make a few extra nickels, Con Air Extended offers the following stuff. (And I spotted all this stuff instantly, which should tell you how many times I've seen Con Air in the past several years.)

(Extended version "spoilers" may be found in the following ramble:)

Early in the flick, Poe's eventual attacker says something snide about his lovely Tricia -- something nastier than in the theatrical cut. There's also a glimpse of Poe getting arrested that wasn't there before, as well as a sequence in which Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson) rescues Poe from a burning cell during a prison riot. There are some tweaks made to Dave Chappelle's dialogue, and a little extra back-story on how Poe once killed a prison bully called "The Giant." Danny Trejo gets to deliver an extra dose of rapist ugliness, and there's also a semi-pointless conversation between Cusack's & Featherstone's characters. Colm Meaney gets an extra moment to ruminate over the death of his DEA agent, Cage shares a few extra words with prison guard Bishop, Garland (Buscemi) gets to kill a guard (off-camera, but unexpected!), and Bishop shares a quick exchange with con-pilot Swamp Thing. There's also a moment of looting when the cons land at Lerner Field, and a good deal of extra interplay between Poe and his buddy Baby-O.

The theatrical cut of Con Air runs 115 minutes; this one goes for 122.

Final Thoughts

You'll be happy to know that after a month-long diet of Kubrick, Hitchcock, and the Coen Brothers, I was released from the Home for the Criminally Schlock-Addicted, and have since gone on to recommend films as varied as The Proposition, The Notorious Bettie Page, and United 93.

(Silent Hill and Poseidon were pretty awesome, too, but don't tell my therapist I said that.)

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